The Experience of God: A Postmodern Response

By Kevin Hart; Barbara E. Wall | Go to book overview

Introduction

KEVIN HART


1

Merely utter the simple expression “the experience of God” and you will divide a room, especially if it happens to be filled with philosophers and theologians. There will always be a group that strenuously objects that the expression makes no sense at all—or, if it does, then it is downright dangerous. “It is the very nature of God not to be experienced by finite beings,” someone will offer as a first comment. “And if we do encounter anything that appears divine it would be, at best or worst, an idol.” Chances are that another member of this group will quickly add, “You need to realize that ‘experience’ as you use it is a relatively modern notion, especially when it comes to religion, and besides to yoke ‘experience’ and ‘God’ together is to presume the rightness of reducing theology to anthropology.” She takes a breath and steadily looks around. “I know that Karl Rahner often talks about experiencing God, and maybe you are quoting him. Let me say that I think that his work is very effective pastoral theology, but his emphasis on turning all theology into theological anthropology can have harmful effects. To speculate theologically on the basis of a philosophical anthropology is to produce at best a stunted doctrine of God and, in the end, a truncated understanding of being human.” She stops, but we have not yet finished hearing from this group.

-1-

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